LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
Lord, You are my rock and my strength.
Read PSALM 41
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
2 The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.
4 I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
5 My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
6 When one of them comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around.
7 All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
8 “A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
9 Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned[b] against me.
10 But may you have mercy on me, Lord;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
11 I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
12 Because of my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.
13 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.
a Psalm 41:1 In Hebrew texts 41:1-13 is numbered 41:2-14.
b Psalm 41:9 Hebrew has lifted up his heel
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus proclaimed: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness” (John 8:12). Reflect in prayer on what this has meant for you.
This psalm ends the ﬁrst book of David’s psalms with a shout of praise (13) and a double “Amen!” Its verses have a pattern of their own, a cross-shaped (chiastic) structure that is reinforced through poetic repetition and parallels: affirmations (1–3 and 11,12) of God’s sustenance surround the psalmist’s cries for mercy (4,10), which, in turn, surround a series of heartfelt complaints (5–9). It is interesting that these 12 verses that precede the ﬁnal praise coda sum up very creatively the range and tone of the whole psalter—sometimes cries of pain and, at other times, praise and thanks to the God who delivers his servants.
The raw complaints in verses 5–9 echo the prophet Jeremiah’s experience of betrayal by his own family and his friends (Jer. 9:4,5; 12:6). Jeremiah’s response is the viscerally felt book of Lamentations—a writing which has been a source of comfort to many in deep despair over what is happening to them, especially for those who for no apparent reason ﬁnd themselves stuck in a “dark night of the soul” (John of the Cross, 1542–1591).
Jill Briscoe notes how, in Jeremiah’s long years of harsh treatment as a prophet to a deaf people, he starts off by blaming God for everything: God “has turned his hand against me again and again… He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship” (Lam. 3:3–5). Was it God doing this? Too often, Briscoe says, we get God and life mixed up—like Jeremiah does: “God is not cruel, however; life is cruel” (Jill Briscoe, Faith Enough to Finish). This can cause distress when all seems lost and hopeless. We give up. Or alternatively we can, like the psalmist, review God’s past goodness and affirm that we will put our continuing trust in his goodness.
Someone has said: “Never doubt in the dark what you know in the light.” What are the reminders in your life of God’s faithfulness?
Lord, when those who are close to me forsake me and even try to harm me, I will trust in Your steadfast faithfulness to me over the years.